Nuclear power is much less benign than Joshua S. Goldstein and Steven Pinker make it out to be (“Inconvenient truths for the environmental movement,” Opinion, Nov. 23). Today, nearly 30 years after the Chernobyl disaster, humans are barred from reinhabiting a 1,000-square-mile exclusion zone where dangerous radiation levels persist. In Japan, tens of thousands of people are still not able to return safely to their homes because of nuclear contamination surrounding the Fukushima plant.

The authors also ignore the risks of radioactive materials getting into the wrong hands in a highly unstable world. The slope from civilian nuclear power to weapons development is a steep and dangerous one, as Iran's brinkmanship has amply shown. Beyond what rogue states might undertake, why increase the number of targets for ideologically driven non-state actors hell-bent on creating chaos?

Instead of propping up a precarious and elusive panacea, we should make an all-out push to develop wind and solar power. These renewable technologies, not nuclear power, are quickly proving themselves to be "the world's most abundant and scalable carbon-free energy" sources.


Philip Warburg

The writer is the former president of the Conservation Law Foundation.